December 6, 2023
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Many changes occurring to improve students’ experience

Dear CSU Family,

Much has been going on at CSU and I would like to share a few things with you.

First, as many of you know, Military Tuition Assistance (MTA) has now been reinstated for all branches of the military, with the exception of the Coast Guard. This is a great relief for many of our students as the suspension placed a roadblock up for those pursuing their educational goals. We are thankful and respectful of those of you who made special efforts to alert political and military officials of the importance of MTA.

President's OfficeFor those military students who need assistance in continuing on in your program, please contact your academic advisor as they will be happy to assist you.

In other news, we recently hosted Dr. Fred Snow on-campus as a consultant in the areas of retention and learning communities. Dr. Snow, president of Symphony Education, Inc., has a comprehensive history in academia, with extensive experience in residential and online settings. He has served as president of three universities and is a sought-after speaker and panelist.

Dr. Snow presented some wonderful concepts on how to provide a high-level student experience, especially in the first six months of enrollment. He also spoke on the creation of learning communities in such a way that I have never heard before.

CSU has already purchased the software license for Blackboard Community. This software is being tested for the creation of learning communities in the areas of student interest and career fields. Once fully implemented, it will provide an entirely new area for engagement and interaction across the university’s student body. Many exciting developments are ahead!

To help CSU get all the many improvement initiatives completed, we have expanded our leadership team. I, along with our Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jon Crispin, am proud to announce the addition of two new executive positions to help move our mission forward.

  • Dr. Kent Kelso will be joining CSU on April 24 as the new vice president of Student Affairs. He received his doctorate from Indiana State University in 2006 and is coming to CSU from Texarkana, Texas where he served as the Vice President for Student Engagement & Services at Texas A&M University, Texarkana campus.
  • On May 8, Dr. Jeffrey Barksdale arrives as the vice president of Academic Affairs. He earned a doctorate from Auburn University in 1997 and has held several positions with Auburn. He now provides consultant services for higher education.

We welcome these gentlemen to the CSU family.

I mentioned in March that several CSU staff members, led by CSU Community Relations Director Vicki Barnes, were actively involved locally in supporting Relay for Life and its effort to battle cancer. On April 6, CSU participated in the Alabama Gulf Coast Relay for Life event here. About 30 staffers participated in the event which featured games, a special luminary ceremony, caricatures, hamburger cook-off, a zip line and other family friendly activities. The overall event raised $70,000 and CSU raised about $11,500. I am very proud of our annual efforts to battle cancer and support Relay for Life and hats off to Vicki and all those who participated.

Another community event we participated in recently was the Ride 2 Recovery, which raises money to support mental and physical rehabilitation programs for our nation’s wounded veterans. As part of the Gulf Coast Challenge, Ride 2 Recovery featured cyclists traveling from New Orleans to Tallahassee, Fla. CSU staffers made posters and cheered the riders as they passed through our area.

In closing, I want to once again thank you again for choosing CSU and allowing us to help you reach your educational and career goals. We remain committed to continuously improving everything we do.

God Bless,
Robert Mayes